Business Focus – What makes a good slogan?

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On a visit to Rathmines recently, Tasty came across a slogan for Hillbilly’s, a chicken quick serve chain originating in Cork, on an advertising display and spotted their anatomically confusing slogan ‘Home of the breast in a bun’. This had us wondering what makes a good slogan that captures the public’s imagination and can also stand the test of time.


What does a slogan do for a business?

A good slogan will represent the identity of the business in a few words. If a logo catches your customers eye visually then a good slogan will stimulate their brain and remind them why they like the brand. It should communicate the essence of the company in a few short words. If it works well it will do ‘exactly what it says on the tin!’

M&M’s famous ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hands‘ tells you one of the key selling points of the product. Brennan’s bread ‘Today’s bread, Today‘ is a great homegrown example of a slogan that highlights the freshness of the product – though whether old Mr.Brennan’s radio voice is a benfit to the business is a different question.


The key elements of a good slogan.

The most successful slogans are short and easy to remember. Often these are tied to recognisable jingles, although the jury is out on whether the actual jingle resonates with the public. McDonalds ‘I’m lovin it’, Spars ‘Under the Tree at Spar’ and Centra’s ‘For the way we live today’ have managed to be memorable without becoming TOO annoying. Anyone remember the now defunct broadband provider WiMax and their catchy jingle?

This illustrates an interesting point. A recent study found that while repeated exposure can help people remember a slogan better, people are unlikely to have a more positive reaction to it simply because they have seen it more frequently so make sure the slogan doesn’t irritate – we’re looking at you Vodafone #teamofus!

It should also be promoting a positive message about the brand. Subway’s ‘Eat Fresh‘ and Burger King’s ‘Have it your way‘ both communicate the key values of the business – Fresh food in Subway’s case and consumer choice in Burger King’s.

As with most things it’s best to keep it simple, do you ever remember a tagline that’s more than a few words? Just Do it! Yes, We can.


It can separate you from the crowd.

Done wel,l a slogan can make your business stand out among your competitors. Marks and Spencer’s ‘Not just any food’ campaign highlighted the high quality of their produce in relation to rival supermarkets. Supermacs ‘100% Irish’ gets across the idea that you’re dealing with an Irish business. ‘Finger lickin’ good’ from KFC sells the idea of their food having a unique taste.


Keep making sense

It’s not an easy task to create something simple that reflects the personality of the business while still making logical and grammatical sense. Supervalu’s slogan skirts close to being silly – real food, real people – as opposed to what exactly? Fake food and fake people?

It’s an area that is dangerous for the brand and for the English language! Check out these two examples from the US for slogans that confuse rather than clarify. Long John Silver’s – ‘We Speak Fish’ and Wendy’s ‘Do What Tastes Right’.

You should take your time when devising a slogan. Sleep on It – things might look very different in the morning, also test it out on colleagues, customers and family members and get truthful replies. My Goodness, my Guinness.


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sometimes even the big boys make mistakes. A few years ago Burger King launched a new slogan ‘Be Your Way‘ to try and target the Millennial generation. It’s a variation on their longstanding ‘Have it Your Way ‘ tag but tries to tap into the younger generation’s independent way of life instead of focusing on the brand’s food.

Only time will tell whether it will work on a generation who are media savvy, health conscious and generally wary of big brands.

The irreverent food website wasn’t convinced ‘There’s not enough reflection time to make a sound judgment, but we’re confident that this may go down as the very worst slogan in history. Not only is this basically gibberish, the grammar is off, it says nothing about the chain or its product, and it’s not likely to get anyone through the door. It’s almost like the executives felt they needed to alter “Have it your way” because it went unchanged for 40 years.’


Be funny if you can!

Humour is very tricky to get right because it’s a fine line between funny and annoying – it definitely needs to be tested on everyone you can find. The above example from Hilbilly’s walks that line. Think Outside the Bun!

Also be truthful – or at least vaguely accurate – only say the best fish and chips in the universe if you can back it up with evidence. Burger King is indeed The Home of the Whopper. Don’t be afraid to change it after asking your customers, friends, colleagues, even rivals, if it’s not working, it’s not working so make the change. Sometimes You’ve Got to Break the Rules.

Finally, what’s the most important reason for giving your business a good slogan? Because you’re worth it!

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